Sticky Tickets - Online Ticketing and Event Registration
I further explored Sticky Tickets and how Matt is progressing in a candid interview with him. This is what he has to say:
• Please tell us about yourself, your background and interests?
I’m Matt Freedman and I’m the CEO of Sticky Tickets, an online ticketing and event registration web portal. We are based in Sydney, Australia and our site currently services all of Australia. I am also the Chairman of eMarketing business Redback Solutions which I founded in 1999.
• Who are the people behind this and how it started?
The business was co-founded by myself and Sydney entrepreneurs Jay Gaibisso and Dany Gruosso. Jay hired the IMAX during the FIFA World Cup in 2006 to watch Australia v Brazil but couldn’t find a simple-to-use, self-service online system to handle the ticket selling and payments so brought on Dany and myself to help him develop and realise the idea.
• How long did it take before it was up and running?
After initial planning and developing the idea through late 2006, Sticky Tickets was formed in early 2007 and the site was launched in July 2007. The actual development time was only around 4 months once the market research was complete and the scope of the functionality of the site was developed.
• What service does it provide for consumer or customers?
It allows anyone who is running an event to sell tickets to it or handle registrations. We’ve created a very simple process of joining up as an organiser for free, creating and listing your event, marketing your event and managing the ticket sales, ticket delivery and invoicing.It can be used for a very diverse range of events from business lunches, charity events, fashion shows, movie nights, and theatre and even for private events where someone just needs to collect money from the other attendees, like a birthday or bridal shower.
Most importantly it adds eCommerce facilities to organisations that are not in a position or don’t want the hassle of building their own payment gateways into their websites.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your event is. We have had people use for a 4-person dinner, through to the Sydney International Boat Show which will have thousands of people buy tickets online.
• How many people are using your services?
We have hundreds of event organisers currently using the site with new organisers joining every day. There are thousands of registered members buying tickets through the site daily, many of whom are return purchasers and use the site as a what’s on for local events.
• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
Much of our marketing has been through targeted online advertising such as Google Adwords. We have also implemented a very successful word-of-mouth campaign and increased the spread of this with a referral program.
Our organisers are our best salespeople, spreading the word for us. We are finding that our rate of growth is accelerating as we bring on board more organisers.
• What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model, which is being tried?
For free events, there is no charge at all. If we process a credit card, we charge a small transaction fee that the organiser can choose to include in the ticket price or add to the ticket. It is a low-margin, high-volume business.
• What are the main technologies used behind this venture?
The site has been built using ASP.NET and MS SQL. The site utilises an infrastructure that can handle massive growth with any decrease in performance.
• What has been the easiest to use, out of box and helpful technology?
The site itself has been custom-built to handle the specific (and changing needs) of our market. In other areas of the business, we utilise as much off-the-shelf software as possible. Salesforce.com has probably been the most useful out-of-the-box solution for handling enquiries, opportunities and customer support.
• What’s your thought on being an entrepreneur? How tough it is to start a venture in Australia?
Being an entrepreneur is great!! I love it. But it is certainly a personality type. The main thing to consider when being an entrepreneur is that you are going to have to work hard, you have to try and focus on one idea at a time (because the ideas just keep coming) and once you have got the idea off the ground, you need to hand over the control or management to someone who is better suited to the details of day to day business management.
• What Government resources have you used to help your business? And have they made an impact? Have you sought any funding?
I’ve found as an entrepreneur, the amount of time and paperwork to get any sort of government assistance is usually counterproductive and it’s easier just to do it yourself and do it the way you want to do it. Private funding is much more successful and available. We have several private investors who have contributed funds and expertise to enable us to get the business off the ground and continue to grow it.
• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
- Try and learn as much as you can before you start doing anything.
- Make sure your idea has a sound revenue model
- Whatever your budget is, half your revenue forecasts and double the time frame. If you can still make it viable, then it's worth a go.
- Look for ideas that can run on autopilot, ie use technology and outsourcing to deliver the product. Stay away from service-based models (ie selling hours for $). Your aim should be to grow the biggest income-generating business with the least amount of people. Most people try and grow the biggest business by employing the most people.
• Any suggested reading material?
- Secrets of Internet Entrepreneurs Exposed, Dale Beaumont – it features me, so I’m a bit biased, but it also has some great stories and ideas from 13 other Internet entrepreneurs.
- The E-Myth, Michael Gerber – an oldie but a good. Set up your business with automated systems and the end goal in mind.
- The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell – all you need is a social epidemic to make an average business into an exceptional business.
- Anything from Seth Godin – he is truly the permission marketing guru.